Education

Tensile engineering offers design flexibility in many ways that other building materials cannot. They are lightweight, strong and durable systems which offer benefits such as diffusion of light, acoustic dampening and the ability to span large areas uninterrupted. Their versatility from shade canopies to wall and ceiling panels gives these structures the ability to adapt across all industries.

Tensile Structures – The Basics

Tensile Structures are formed by tensioning fabric across or around an aluminium or steel framework. True tensile fabric structures are those in which every part of the fabric is in tension. The fundamental rule for stability is that, a tensioned fabric structure must curve equally in opposite directions; giving the canopy its 3-dimensional stability. Fabric can achieve far greater spans than conventional building materials, with minimal supporting structure.

Greater translucency and dynamic, organic shapes bring the feeling of outside, inside, as well as providing shade and protection from the weather.

Tensile structures generate what are known as ‘live loads’ instead of the static ‘dead loads’ of traditional roofing materials. Modern architectural fabrics offer increased stability and longevity often 20+ years.

MODEL LIBRARY

Our library houses a range of 3d .dwg files that you may download and use, for free.

All we ask is that you leave a few contact details with us, before we grant you access.

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive an email that contains a link to our online library, where you may download relevant files and use them to further your eduction on tensile structures or detail them in project proposals, etc.

reCAPTCHA is required.

CPD & EXPERIENCES

We are currently reviewing and updating our CPD course.

Please sign up to our mailing list for more information on when it will be available again.

reCAPTCHA is required.

Forms of a Tensile Structure

To ensure that fabric is a stable building material we need to create a ‘double curvature’ into the form of the structure. This gives it rigidity, allowing it to deal with any wind and snow loads that will be applied to it. This curvature is achieved by patterning fabric panels, bonding them into a 3-dimensional shape and then placing them under tension.

What is tension?

Tension is the force used to pull the structure of a material apart. It is the most efficient way of using any material because it utilises the whole cross section at maximum efficiency. For example, a stick will break under compression or bending, long before it would be pulled apart by tension. Tension loads maximise the load capacity of materials and requires the least material.

What is a tensioned fabric structure?

Tensile fabric structures are those in which every part of the fabric is in tension. The fundamental rule for stability is that, a tensioned fabric structure must curve equally in opposite directions; this gives the canopy its 3-dimensional stability. This is often referred to as ‘double curvature’ or an ‘anticlastic form’ and mathematically it is known as a ‘hyperbolic paraboloid’. If we place flat panels under tension, they will stretch over time and then become unstable as the wind catches them – potentially coming away from their fixings in particularly strong winds. Flat structures can be made but they require much stronger steel structures.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SOLUTION

Although tensile structures can often look beautifully simple, they are highly engineered designs that encounter lots of design considerations. With that in mind here is a list of things to consider when choosing your tensile structure or product.

Menu